The Sum of Her Parts by Alan Dean Foster
Whispr and Dr. Ingrid Seastrom are from Savannah, Namerica. Now, though, they are deep in forbidden territory in the Namib desert in Africa. Most people sneak into that region to mine diamonds. They are on a different mission. They are trying to find the top secret laboratory for SICK, a research and development company. There are mercenaries trying to find and stop them – probably by killing them. At least one would happily torture them first.
Whispr is a Meld – he had his body surgical and chemically manipulated to make him stick thin. He needs special nutrient supplements to survive. Dr. Seastrom is a Natural with a few cosmetic enhancements to change her appearance from the people trying to find them.
The research facility has redundant security systems, including cameras, floating vehicles, animals manipulated to spy on anything that moves, and other animals manipulated to attack anything they find. There should be no way any person could get within miles of the lab. That doesn’t stop Dr. Seastrom, and thus Whispr as her companion and guide, from trying. If they get to the facility, how will they get in? And if they manage that, how do they get to the ultra top secret Research area that has the answers they seek?
Those are questions to be addressed if that get that far. For now they have to cross a desert, keeping to the small crevices and gulleys, avoiding flash floods, outwitting their hunters, and relying on the native help that is available. They survived getting out of Savannah and into Africa. The located the source of the intelligence they want. Nothing has been easy since they found the impossible technology in Namerica. They will keep going until they are stopped or finally get their answers.
The Sum of Her Parts concludes Alan Dean Foster’s Tipping Point trilogy. The intensity built up in the first two books stays tight throughout The Sum of Her Parts. Foster’s book should NOT be read until the first two have been read. Like the other two, this one is short, 250 pages or so. It would have been better if they had been published together in one book. (They may be released that way in the future. I see this as a publishing ploy to earn twice to three times as much as just publishing one book. Did Foster write them that way or did Del Ray, the publisher, make that decision?)
Foster’s desert is vast, bleak, yet teeming with life and hope. Most of The Sum of Her Parts follows Whispr and Dr. Seastrom as they make that journey. The quest culminates in answers they can’t predict. Can they accept the solution? Foster handles that well. Each is his/her own person and makes a personal decision. Both choices are believable (given the amazing circumstances) and handled deftly.
The future of cosmetics, plastic surgery, genetics, and medicine are given a bizarre, believable future in Foster’s dystopic novel. What can mankind do to itself? Is there anyway to change? Check out the Tipping Point Trilogy, ending with The Sum of Her Parts.
Notice: Graphic violence